Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Actual Mountain

In this age of colossal sim surrounds I assumed the granite peak visible in the distance from Port Seraphine was an object-- but no, it was terrain. Very cool.

Oopsie With the Stunt PLane

"They say any landing you can walk away from is a good one," I said.

"I'm not unscathed. My head is killing me," said Sweetie.

"I can fix that," I said.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Friday, August 22, 2014

Cub Scouts, College Classes, and Bikers

Above is a photo sent to me by Christian Wells. His Cub Scout pack is about to explore our robot sanatorium-- those who have survived, at least. Christ told me a couple of scouts fell off the platform.

In the past month we have been visited by cub scouts, bikers, and a university class from the University of South Florida brought by instructor demarco Spatula, who was impressed with Whimsy's ways of engaging avatars. We are getting popular!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Alien on the Moon Identified

The internet is buzzing about this image, which was taken from Google Moon, a huge trove of photographs made public by NASA. Is it an alien from space? Is it the long-lost Colussus of Rhodes (seriously!) Is it just a trick of light?

I know what it is. I'm certain. It's the gorilla/big/dog/whatever it is at the Cornfield.

Yeah, this gorilla.

Clearly someone hit it hard enough to send it to the moon, Alice.

Mystery solved.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Against the Night Sky Fireflies Look Rather Like Stars,
If Stars were Yellowish-Green and Flashed  Intermittently

One of the earliest scripts I came across in Second Life is called Foxfire. It was created by Ama Omega, whose birth date in Second Life was 12/11/2002. Foxfire produces briefly-flashing tiny yellow lights throughout the brief Second Life night. I immediately modified it so fireflies would appear both day and night. Since 2008 I  have had dozens of copies stuffed into prims all over Whimsy and Whimsy Kaboom.

Sweetie didn't say much about the fireflies until lately, when she complained they weren't the right color. "Fireflies aren't bright yellow," she said. "They're greenish yellow."

She was right, of course.

I rezzed a prim, put the Foxfire script in it, and asked her to color the prim to a firefly color she could live with. She did, and I changed the particle start and end colors in the script to produce a proper firefly color.

Next, we increased the radius of the firefly display from 3.0 to 4.5 meters and halved the number of fireflies visible at any one time. We also tweaked the length of time each flash was visible. When we were finished, the field of fireflies appeared across a greater distance, was not so densely populated, and produced flashes of a realistic length and color.

Finally, Sweetie convinced me it would be better to reset the fireflies so they appeared only during the Second Life night.

"But people set the sun position all sorts of ways," I complained. "Some have noon on all the time. Some, like you, live at midnight."

"True," she said, "but Whimsy is optimized to provide spectacular experiences at both day and night. We should let visitors know that."

And so I changed the script so the fireflies appear only when it's dark.

There's a scripting command called llGetSunDirection. It gives you x, y, and z vectors for the position of the Second Life sun. The z component is positive when the sun is above the horizon, and negative when the sun is below the horizon. It would have been a simple matter to use zero as the trigger, but in real life fireflies begin flashing when it starts to grow dark (Sweetie pointed out they are active for an hour or two and then shut down for the rest of the night, but I chose to ignore that and leave them on all through the one-hour Second Life night).

I decided to turn the fireflies on at dusk and off at dawn-- but to do that I needed to know what the z position of the sun was when it was just dark enough to turn them on and just light enough to turn them off.

To do that, I needed to know the z position of the sun at those times.

I made a script that showed in hover text the z position, set it to update every ten seconds, and watched as the z position changed. I re-watched season one of The Killing for a couple of hours as the day progressed until the sun set, and managed to determine a z of  +.1 was was just about the right time to trigger the fireflies.

For the record, the z vector slowly increases from 0 to 1 as the day progresses, then slowly decreases to 0 as the sun goes below the horizon. It decreases to -.5 (I think; I could stay awake no longer and went to bed) and then begins to increase.

So anyway, I produced a new and improved Sweetie-tweaked Foxfire script and today replaced the script all over Whimsy. If you would like a copy of the script, I'll be happy to give you one (with full permission). Just IM me or send me a notecard.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Whimsy's Concerge Bots: Part II: Specialization

Whimsy Tip Bot. Photo by Greg Paslong

Our tip bot transitioned to a concierge bot when, at Sweetie's suggestion, I gave him additional functionality at the geysers on Whimcentricity. I put his hat back on his head and added a panel that allows visitors to pay five Lindens to control the geysers. A sign in his hand allows them (at no charge) to rain hot smoking boulders down on the sim. I mean, hot smoking death rocks should be free.

When we added a second specialty tip bot at the train depot, we unofficially dubbed it a concierge bot. In addition to handing tips, he dispenses SCUBA gear and an engineer's hat. And so the idea of specialty robots (all from the same basic model) was born.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Whimsy's Concierge Bots: Part I: The TipBot

The Concierge Bot at Whimsy's Entry Point Wants You to Wear Your Hard Hat

In earlier years I put out an assortment of standard tip jars. They worked insofar as accepting payment, but they were uniformly ineffective at encouraging donations.

That changed when I made the first Whimsy Tipbot. People give more often now, and when they donate, they donate larger amounts. The tipbot rocks.

The tipbot was born as a greeter attached to the front door of the robot sanatorium at Whmsy Kaboom. He is happy to teleport you inside if you touch him.

The doorbot's prims were cut so he would fit onto the door without his backside protruding through the other side of the door, but it was a simply matter to round him out, adjust him, and add a means of locomotion. I opted to give him a wheel instead of legs.

He holds his top hat in his hand, with a flexible dollar bill sticking out, and he turns to face the nearest avatar--which is creepy, but not as creepy as having him follow visitors around, which I actually thought about.

When you tip him, he bows and thanks you profousely.

With his introduction, tips increased tremendously. I think he appeals to visitors.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hang Glider Launch Point

New Hang Glider Launch Point, Whimsy Kaboom

Mathieu Bathiat of Bora Bora Isles used to launch his hang glider from a volcano. I liked that, but because our volcano Pele is near the sim corner we've always launched our gliders from an island near the center of Whimsy. I've never been happy with it.

Last weekend Sweetie and I found ourselves on Bora Bora and saw this great launch platform for Mathieu's hang glider. I guess his volcano is gone. Sad, sad. It's sad when a volcano disappears from Second Life. It's as if a star went out. But I digress.

I bought Mathieu's launch platform and set it out near the temple to Bob on Whimsy. As luck would have it Sweetie logged in and immediately suggested I place it in the top of the huge banyan tree she recently placed on the sim.

Duh. Get the hang glider higher and create a logical place for its launch. I could have thought of that if I had a million years and a mind like Sweetie's!

So anyway, that's what we did. Photos follow.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Little Birdy

Night before last, Sweetie pulled a cute little clockwork bird from her inventory. I tried to fly it, but it was set to allow only its owner to ride. Then I saw it was full perm from Aley Resident, and I immediately took a copy.

The birdy flies wonderfully, but wouldn't go below the surface of the ocean, which disappointed Sweetie-- so after she went to bed I decided I would tweak the script to allow anyone to ride, tweak it again to allow anyone to ride, and put it in a rezzer so visitors could ride it.

Wait a second! There was a flaw in the plan. I didn't HAVE a rezzer-- at least not one that would continuously temporary objects.


And so I decided to build one. How hard could it be?

It turned out not to be difficult, but it was tricky.

I did the modifications to the script, added a timer to make the bird whisper on a high number channel "birdie here" ever second or so, set a copy to temp-on-rez, and put the temporary birdie in a prim.

I created a script in the prim and set it to rez a bird whenever the script started and again when it stopped hearing from the birdie it had rezzed-- meaning it had timed out and disappeared or someone had jumped on it and flown away. So long as it kept hearing from the birdie that it was present it would refrain from rezzing a new one.

But Doh! As written, the script wouldn't rez a birdy so long as it kept hearing "birdie is here"-- but wouldn't rez a new bird when the original bird disappeared.

That was because the listen event wouldn't be triggered.

I thought about replacing the listen with sensor repeat (which would work much the same, except by detecting the presence of the bird rather than listening to what it was saying, and would have the same problem when the birdy disappeared), but it was late at night and I was tired and my head started to swim, so I took the lazy way out. I made a new prim, linked it to the first, and had IT tell the original prim when it stopped hearing from the birdie.

It worked like a charm.

You can go here to ride the birdie and get a copy for yourself.

Whimsy Kaboom Full Submersion Experience

I knew it wouldn't take long for Sweetie to figure out a use for all those prims I freed up.

Her original plan was to put out more kelp, but as things often do, it all got out of hand.

One of our favorite sims and a big influence on both of us was the late Privateer Space. It was built entirely by Aley Arai, whose name no longer appears in search. Much of her content is lost, but as Aley Resident she has, goddess bless her, released much of her content with full permissions. I'm talking mad scientist machines, her spacebug personal interplanetary traveler, free roaming sea creatures, sculpted kelp which covers a lot of sea floor with few prims, a volcano with spirit guardians that chase you around, a clockwork birdie which is now in a rezzer on Whimsy and about which I will be writing soon, and an underwater city which was once inhabited by Captain Nemo.

Sweetie quickly gave up on the kelp and made liberal use of the Captain Nemo builds. There are at least three habitable underwater pods on Whimsy Kaboom, and we just completed a passageway from the surface. That's the entrance at the top of the post.

Collision with Cannonball

I found the perfect spot to hover. When I fire the cannon that has been sitting on Kaboom for many years, it hits me every time.

If I'm quick enough, I can catch the ball before it richochets away.

Here it's just about to hit me. Ouchie!

Second Life. Where you can shoot yourself repeatedly with a cannon.